Sue Clear, Property Compliance Executive, LME Move. November 2015.
If you're a professional landlord or letting agent and assuming that you haven't been on the Moon for the last year then you can't have failed to have been bombarded with a plethora of rental property compliance updates and changes.
The residential rental marketplace is being shaken up root and branch and, whether or not you agree with the need for the variety of changes and new policy introductions, the reality is they appear here to stay.
From legionella risk assessments, electrical inspection condition reports, carbon monoxide and fire alarms and changes to the issuing of Section 21s, right through to the implications of The Deregulation Act, removal of mortgage tax relief, recent introduction of The Housing & Planning Act and Right To Rent - compliance for the residential rental property sector has turned into somewhat of a legal and financial minefield.
As much as change can be threatening it isn't a wholly bad thing to be feared either. With the right information and access to the professionally supplied services you'll need, complying with all of the legal aspects of renting out your residential properties can be made as painless and low cost as possible.
This month I'm going to focus on the recent changes as of 1st October 2015 to the installation of carbon monoxide and smoke alarms under The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.
In a nutshell, from the 1st October 2015 landlords in England only are required to:
Failing to comply can lead to a fine of up to £5,000 issued by the local authorities, to whom tenants may not hesitate to report the failure to (more on that aspect later!) Fines aside though the human cost is the most important here. According to the main Government website this new legislation will help prevent up to 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year. In addition it is also the difference between a completely burnt down house and insurance nightmare as opposed to a bit of smoke damage and a lick of paint...I know which I'd choose any day!
Now back to that 'reporting to the authorities' aspect. Personally at LME Move we recommend the fixing of mains wired smoke and carbon monoxide alarms as opposed to battery powered, removable devices. The reasons are three-fold:
That said, even with fixed devices installed we still always advise our landlord clients to carry out or have us provide a full inventory to document the presence of the devices and other fixtures and fittings. For landlords who decline an inventory we advise to at least obtain a signed form from their tenants to confirm that:
At the very least this helps ensure no complaints to the local authorities and legal headaches in the event that a relationship turns sour.
As a final note it's worth me mentioning that whilst landlords can happily fix battery powered alarms to their properties themselves, mains powered alarms must legally only ever be installed by a fully qualified and registered electrician.
Myself and my fellow compliance colleague - Mark - are always here to guide you further should you be unsure of the best makes, models or location for devices to be installed within. Our nationwide team of electrical contractors are also available should you require large volumes installing throughout portfolios of properties.
Further information and official Government documentation and guides relating to the new legislation can be read here.
There is also a Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015: Q&A booklet available here.
Until next month!
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